John Chambers to Cisco employees: Quit messing up my brilliant strategy!

ITworld uncovers first draft of Chambers memo to Cisco workers (OK, not really)

Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers sent a sobering memo to company employees on Monday hinting at major changes. ITworld has uncovered the first draft of Chambers' message. (OK, not really.)

From: John Chambers

Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 2:19 PM

Subject: Message from John: Quit Messing Up My Brilliant Strategy!

Over the years as your leader here at Cisco, I've learned many things. One is that it's fun to make far more money than any of you. Even during Cisco's worst years, I'll still pull down more than $12 million or so. Let's face it, I'm the original Cisco Fatty!

And there's a reason why: As Cisco's longtime CEO and chairman, I'm clearly indispensable to the company. The board knows that my vision and strategy is bullet-proof and unassailable. We remain committed to extending the network platform to enable collaboration and data center/cloud transformation. Oh, and video. We're really big on video now. In fact, we're close to inking a major deal with video rental market leader Blockbuster any day now!

That being said, Cisco's shareholders are grumbling about our stock price, which is less than half of what it was three years ago. (Good thing that didn't happen to my compensation package! LOL!) OK, I get their complaints -- I'm a shareholder too -- but what am I supposed to do about it? I'm a Great Man, not a miracle worker!

To sum up so far: Indispensable Great Man with brilliant strategy under pressure from whiny shareholders. What to do?

Get to the root of the problem, of course. And sadly, the problem is some of you. As brilliant as my strategy is, we you are not executing properly at all! You have been slow to make decisions, you have had surprises where you should not, and you have lost the accountability that has been a hallmark of our ability to execute consistently for our customers and our shareholders. I mean, really, what the hell are you all doing? It is unacceptable.

Bottom line, we have lost some of the credibility that is foundational to Cisco's success – and we must earn it back, or I'll never hear the end of it from our shareholders. Here's how we'll do it:

1. We will not fix what's not broken. There are numerous areas where we're executing incredibly well for our customers and partners. I'm speaking primarily of myself, of course, so no changes there!

2. We will take bold steps and we will make tough decisions. With change comes disruption, and you will see this necessary and healthy disruption as we make meaningful decisions in a timely, targeted and measurable way. Now, don't confuse "tough decisions" with layoffs. To be honest, those actually aren't so tough! The "healthy" disruption thing, though, actually does mean layoffs.

Plain and simple - we need to roll up our sleeves and work it out, together. Except for the people who will lose their jobs for botching my brilliant strategy. Hopefully they won't kick up much of a fuss on the way out the door.

Finally, don't start blabbing on Twitter that this is some kind of "burning platform" memo like the one that Swedish guy wrote. We're not on a burning platform. (Though if we were, I could afford to buy a helicopter and save myself!)

Thank you for being part of Cisco, even the people who are going to be laid off.


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